Hawthorne, traditional medicine for the heart

Submitted by AnneCherise Ramsey

People throughout the world value the Hawthorne plant as food and medicine for strengthening the heart and blood vessels.  The Lushootseed word for the Hawthorne Plant is čibadac, and is a valued plant ally of the Coast Salish peoples. Čibadac has been used as traditional medicine in Indigenous communities for thousands of years. Hawthorne is best known as a cardiovascular tonic, easing pressure on the heart. It is a very safe plant to consume, with a wide variety of health benefits, aiding in easing instances of both physical and emotional stress. In this article, we will discuss the primary health benefits of Hawthorn, while also providing you with information needed to identify, forage, process and consume Hawthorn as a traditional Coast Salish food. 

Identifying Hawthorne: 

Hawthorne is a large shrub or deciduous tree with branches armored with large thorns. It is a part of the Rose family. Hawthorn trees can be small, ranging only a few feet tall, to up to 30-40 feet in size. Hawthorne is a native plant grown all around the Northern Hemisphere of the world, including America, Europe, Central Asia and even parts of Africa. There are over 280 species. The leaves are serrated, with medium to dark green colored leaves. In the Spring, Hawthornes leaves are soft and edible, with beautiful pinkish-white, fragrant floral blossoms. In the fall, the Hawthorn tree provides us with beautiful light-dark red Hawthorn Berries. The darker and brighter the berry, the richer it is in antioxidants. The flesh of the berries is edible, however the large seed inside is not. 

When and How to Harvest: 

Though the flowers, leaves and berries are all edible, in this article we will primarily focus on the Hawthorne Berries. Their prime foraging season starts in September and typically ends mid-November, all depending when the first frost hits. When scavenging for Hawthorn, look for trees with bright red clusters of berries. They are bright in color, ranging from a light red color to dark burgundy. These trees can be found along river beds, forests, meadows and ocean shores. In fact, there are currently a plethora of both large and small Hawthorn trees growing alongside the Tulalip Bay, with thousands of beautiful ripe Hawthorne Berries, eager to be discovered. The berries can easily be plucked, but be careful as the branches contain thorns. As you forage these beautiful berries, remember to only take what you need, giving thanks for its many blessings. 

Hawthorne Food: 

Hawthorn leaves and flowers can be added to salads in the springtime. In the fall, the leaves become stiffer and lose their palatability. The Hawthorn tree produces beautiful red edible berries come September. These berries taste semi-sweet, with a mild flavor, but contain a large seed that should not be consumed. Like cherry pits and apple seeds, the seeds contain cyclic acid, which should be avoided unless cooked or dried. Freshly picked, you can eat the outer flesh of the berry and spit out the seed.  

Hawthorne Berries have an oily texture, and naturally contain pectin, a thickening agent used in making jams and jellies, making an excellent addition to any jelly recipe. Hawthorne Berries can be boiled in water and made into an extraction. They can also be dried and used into teas, or dried and ground into a powder. These are popular methods as Cyanic acid dissipates once the berries are cooked or dried. In the Hawthorne Honey recipe provided, we will be cooking the berries to create a Hawthorn Berry water extraction. 

Hawthorne Nutrition / Medicine: 

The heart is one of the most important, if not the most important organ in our body. It is continually pumping blood throughout our veins and arteries, delivering nutrients and removing waste products from trillions of cells. In traditional healing practices (Indigenous, Chinese, Ayurvedic, European), Hawthorne has been used as a plant ally to strengthen and open up the heart. It contains a wide variety of nutrients and antioxidants that make it a powerful medicinal food. 

Hawthorne Berries are high in trace minerals such as selenium and chromium. Selenium is important for proper immune function, while chromium helps enhance the function of insulin – a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels (GoodGrub). 

Hawthorn is packed with Antioxidants and Flavonoids: these are the plant compounds that help give food their color. The darker the berry, the more antioxidants and flavonoids are found. These compounds help support the overall vitality of the heart and cardiovascular system. They strengthen the blood vessels and  help heal damaged vessel walls. “If it is used regularly, it can help balance both high and low blood pressure through increasing the heart’s ability to contract while gently relaxing outer blood vessels. Hawthorn also relaxes the smooth muscles of the coronary artery walls and allows more blood to flow into the cells of the heart. This means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to heart cells and waste products are removed. It is therefore supportive for acute conditions like angina (chest pain). Hawthorn is also helpful in treating or preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which contributes to angina and heart attacks (GoodGrub)”.

Improved Circulation: Hawthorne is used to improve circulation, thus assisting in better brain health, mood and memory (Chevallier). Hawthorne should be consumed regularly to optimize its potential health benefits 

Hawthorn čibadac Extract  & Hawthorn Honey


  • 1 cup fresh Hawthorn Berries 
  • 1 cup filtered water 
  • 1 cup honey 
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon or Lime Juice 
  • Utensils: 
  • Basket 
  • Measuring Cup 
  • Saucepan 
  • Potato Masher 
  • Fine Strainer 
  • Fork 

Step 1: Forage Hawthorn Berries off of the Hawthorn Tree. See harvesting & identification   instructions above. Be sure to properly identify berries from multiple sources before consuming wild foods.   

Step 2: Remove berries from stem and leaves, leaving only the berries. Rinse and dry in warm water. 

Stem 3: Boil berries in filtered water. Use a 1:1 ratio. For every 1 cup of berries, boil in 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes, then reduce to low heat. Simmer for another 45 minus – hour, until the berries are soft. Berries should turn to a dull yellow/orange color from a bright red color. 

Step 4: Once berries are soft, begin the mashing process by using a potato masher. Mash the berries to separate the edible portion of the berry from the seed. This process can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on the quantity of berries cooked. Note, the berry portion of the berries are edible, but the seeds are not. The objective of the mashing process is to extract the edible berry fruit from the seeds. 

Step 5 – Hawthorn Extract: Take mashed Hawthorne berries and run them through a fine-tuned strainer. Use a fork to mash out the maximum amount of juice from the seeds. This process takes time. Final product of hawthorn berry should look like a ketchup-like substance, it should naturally be a thick liquid due its naturally occurring amounts of pectin. From here, the hawthorn berry extract can be made into jams, jellies, soups, and in this recipe, added to honey. 

Step 6 – Hawthorne Honey: Add 1/3 cup of Hawthorn extract to 2/3 cup of honey. Continue to add 1 Tbsp of Lemon juice for extra flavor and preservation. Stir Well. Store in the refrigerator. Use as an ingredient in your favorite teas for a healthy beverage sweetener. 


  • 1. https://www.goodgrub.org/post/plant-of-the-month-hawthorne
  • 2. http://wildfoodsandmedicines.com/hawthorn/  
  • 3. https://tulaliplushootseed.com/?s=plants 
  • 4. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier. 

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication or program information or reasonable accommodation, please contact Annie Ramsey at 360-716-5632 or ajensen@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov.

Empowerment through Self-Defense

LOH and TPD team up to bring safety tactics to the community during DV Awareness Month

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“I feel confident now. A lot more confident,” reflected Tulalip tribal member, Carlotta Davis. “I feel like if somebody came at me, I’d be able to not freak out and apply what I learned in this class tonight. There’s a lot of weirdos out there. Even going to the grocery store, we have to be alert and be able to protect ourselves.” 

Empowered is the word that best describes a group of ten ladies, all hailing from the Tulalip community, who attended the Legacy of Healing’s (LOH) self-defense class on the evening of October 13. 

Over the past several years, the LOH has taken part in a national initiative known as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Through this initiative, the program has brought attention to a problem that plagues Native communities across the nation, while also providing resources, support, information and help to Tulalip tribal members, other tribal members, as well as parents, guardians, and spouses of Tulalip members who are experiencing DV in the household.  

TPD officer Justin Lee instructing the class on self-defense techniques.

Through a 2016 study conducted by the National Institute of Justice, it is apparent that Indigenous women and men are faced with DV situations more than any other race or community in the U.S. The official statistic shows that 84% of Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime as well as 81% of Native men. That same study stated that more than four in five American Indian and Alaskan Native women and men experienced DV in 2016 alone. 

To say that the LOH is active during DV Awareness Month is an understatement. During each week of October, the LOH team, along with the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) team, can be found out in the community, imparting knowledge to the people about what DV is and how it affects the home and community at large.

This year, LOH is hosting a total of four classes to raise awareness. The first event was an eye-opening and moving workshop dubbed Resolving Trauma that was taught by Director/Consultant of the Midwest Trauma Services Network, Frank Grijalva MSCC, MSPH. And to follow that event, LOH partnered with the Tulalip Police Department (TPD) for the first self-defense class at Tulalip since the pandemic hit.

“A few years ago, we put together some self-defense classes for one of our awareness months and there was a lot of interest from the community,” explained LOH and CAC Director, Jade Carela. “And so, the idea came up within our staff about doing another one. I reached out to TPD Chief of Police, Chris Sutter, to see what he thought about it. The chief is extremely supportive of our two departments and thought it was a great idea. This is so good for our community, and another way of promoting something within our community to teach them ways of protecting themselves.”

The hour-and-a-half class was led by TPD Officer Justin Lee, with assistance from Officer Cheyenne Bear and Detective James Cabras. After taking some time to stretch out, the group circled up in room 162 and were taught a variety of techniques including stances, breakaway and blocking maneuvers, as well as kicks, strikes, and punches. The class leaders also spoke about the importance of knowing the vulnerable areas of an attacker and carrying personal protection such as pepper spray, mace, and tasers.

Although the attendees took the lesson very seriously, they still found time to share a few laughs together throughout the beginner’s course. The TPD officers showed the ladies each self-defense move at 20% speed, then they walked about the classroom and gave them the opportunity to correctly demonstrate the techniques back on them. Once the class got the moves down pat, they partnered up and tried their newly acquired skill on each other.  

Said Officer Lee, “We all have been affected by domestic violence. We all have experienced it in one way or the other. So that’s why it’s important for us continue with this training and continue this awareness, so that we as a community can continue to better ourselves, empower ourselves, and not be victims anymore. Having the police department actually teach the class versus hiring a company, which they have done in the past, didn’t really work out, because I think the heart is not there. For us, we serve Tulalip, this is our community, this is our police department, this is our people. We want to empower our people, and we want to give them tools and also the confidence.” 

 “It was an awesome turnout, everybody was really engaged,” added Detective Cabras. “I think the goal of this class was to empower the women of the community to take back their individuality and make connections with other people, and they received it well. We talked about the difference between self-defense and defensive tactics, we spoke on the difference between what law enforcement does as far as defensive tactics and what private citizens can do. We also equipped them with some tools to defend themselves when they’re faced with situations, and we talked about the mindset that they should have. We tried to focus on the fact that they’re no longer victims; they’re strong, independent women who can handle themselves if needed.”

Following the self-defense class, attendees were provided a sandwich-spread dinner and learned about the DV Awareness Month raffle. Prizes include a custom-designed hand drum, beaded earrings, tribal member artwork, Under Armor shoes, and much more. Raffle tickets can be purchased at any of the remaining DV Awareness month events or during their pop-ups at the ti kuphihali café at the Tulalip Admin building on Fridays between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 each or five for $20. 

 “This event was extremely important,” Jade stated. “A lot of people, even people who don’t experience DV necessarily, were able to learn different ways of protecting themselves in safe ways, because we never know what is going to happen. You could be put in a dangerous situation at any second of your life. This class provided more tools to keep themselves safe.”

She continued, “I think it was important to have TPD teach the class because it gives the community the opportunity to see them in a different light. It helps them feel safer and learn from them in a different type of space and bond with them. I love seeing that interaction and it makes me so happy to know that we have community members coming together to support these activities. At the end of the day, it shows that we have people supporting our victims and survivors of DV.” 

DV Awareness Month continues with the last two events held on Thursday October 20 and Tuesday October 25 respectively. The next event is a film screening of the Indigenous film, Sisters Rising, and the last event is a Beading as Healing class. Both events begin at 5:30 in room 162 of the Administration Building. And if you would like to show your support for DV victims and survivors, be sure to wear purple on October 25th

 If you or anybody you know is experiencing an abusive relationship, please do not hesitate to call the LOH at (360) 716-4100 for assistance. And if you are in a crisis or an emergency situation, the LOH provided a list of three additional hotline numbers that you can utilize during your time of need: 

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Strong Hearts Native Helpline: 1-844-762-8483
  • Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County 425-25-ABUSE (22873)

Resolving trauma with Frank Grijalva

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Recently, the Tulalip Tribes held the second annual community gathering in recognition of National Residential Boarding School Awareness Day. This year, the event brought out hundreds of tribal members and community members in an effort to bring attention to the truth about the terrible actions that occurred during the boarding school era. And equally important, the gathering presents an opportunity to start the healing process from that trauma, which has been passed down through the generations.

Now that many are beginning to understand what generational trauma is and how it affects Native America, as well as themselves personally, they want to take action. There has been a concentrated effort amongst tribal nations to identify what their people’s traumas are and how to address it now, so our future tribal leaders do not have to live through the number of struggles that came before them. 

Frank Grijalva

Generational trauma affects not only the community, but the individual homes of each tribal member as well. Our habits, behaviors, decision making abilities and trigger responses are all results of our trauma, as is our physical and spiritual well-being. As Native people, our trauma might look like substance abuse, depression, suicide. Trauma does not only affect the individual, but also the people they are surrounded by, such as their children, spouses, and their extended family, and community. And although not always, trauma can often lead to domestic violence (DV) situations inside the household. 

Tackling the issue head-on, following the healing experience from the September 30th community gathering, the Legacy of Healing (LOH) hosted a two-and-a-half-hour workshop on October 6th at the Tulalip Administration Building. The workshop was focused on resolving trauma and served as the kick-off event for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and approximately twenty community members took part in LOH’s first event of the month. 

“The traumas that we experience are a direct link to the domestic violence that people also experience in their lives,” said LOH Director, Jade Carela. “I believe that a lot of it stems from the trauma that we’ve had in our lives and the things that we learned growing up.”

The informative and insightful workshop was led by the Director/Consultant of the Midwest Trauma Services Network, Frank Grijalva MSCC, MSPH. Frank has been in the Tulalip and Marysville community for several years and has worked with the Tribe’s education division, the community health department, and also the Marysville School District.

Frank’s presentation gave an in-depth look at what trauma is and how it rewires our brains and central nervous systems. He spoke about how trauma plays a role in the early childhood development stages and how some traumas are passed along before the birthing process. Throughout the workshop, he took plenty of time to pause to see if the people were following along and if there were any highlights or topics they could relate to in their own homes and families.

Frank said, “What we did in the boarding schools three generations ago, is we fractured all the families. So, auntie wasn’t there to pick up the baby when the baby was too much for the mom. Or sissy, cousin, grandma, or whoever wasn’t there to take over, to pass the baton to, so their mom could get some rest. Everywhere I go, it’s grandparents who are taking care of the kids because so many kids in this generation have lost themselves, lost their ability to attach and stay in rhythm and be vulnerable, and to stay in love and stay connected.”

After taking time to discuss what trauma is, and what it looks like at Tulalip, Frank explained that people can begin the work of healing their trauma wounds, and over time they can rewire their brains and central nervous systems, essentially becoming an entirely new person with a new outlook on life.  

“Indigenous practice knows more about what it’s doing than the colonized practice,” he stated. “Colonizer practice wants to use pills, talk therapy, and all these cognitive engagement processes. The human being who is traumatized is compromised and changed; their central nervous system, their brains, the way that they perceive the future, their access to narrative, their access to comprehension, the way they think about things linear and logically, those are all altered. And the practice of wrapping around, nurturing, ritual, connection, consistency, and nourishment, all of these things that are meant to address the whole human being, are actually the things that are most useful in trauma resolution.”

Frank continued, “For a lot of people, I ask what your baseline heart rate is. It’s too high if it’s over eighty, unless you’re on some type of medication. The only way you bring your baseline heart rate down is by doing a grounding practice, an internal practice. It could be drumming, dancing, sweats, smokehouse, it could be sitting and looking at nature, it could be yoga. The metaphor I always use is driving a car. Remember when you first learned how to drive and how scary it was? Merging into traffic at 70 mph, all of that. And now, you’re probably driving to work, and you don’t even think about it. You didn’t get that way by avoiding it, you got that way by going head-on with it and working on it.”

Workshop attendees were treated to a spaghetti dinner while Frank gave his presentation, and upon entering room 162, they received notebooks with resources for DV victims, and LOH heart-shaped stress balls. They also had the first opportunity to enter the LOH’s DV Awareness Month raffle, which includes prizes such as an 18-inch hand drum by Les Parks, art and photography by Tribal member Monie Ordonia, beaded earrings and much more. 

And just as an FYI, the LOH will be holding pop-up events on Fridays throughout October at the Tulalip Administration Building from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. by the café, ti kupihali. All proceeds from the raffle will go towards supporting survivors of intimate partner domestic violence and the tickets are $5 each or five for $20.

To end the workshop, the LOH asked several individuals what they took away from the workshop. Each person who volunteered to share received a sage and smudge kit.

“I find a lot of what Frank talks about really interesting,” said Tribal member, Marc Robinson. “What I try to do personally is to understand what everybody and their reactions are, and how they walk about in their everyday lives. I am a student advocate at two middle schools and two elementaries. What I like to do is build that relationship and try to understand the triggers the students may have for their behavior outbreaks. I try to be that person who bridges the gap between admin, teachers, and the staff so I can advocate for the student. Understanding trauma for me is really interesting and helpful both personally and professionally.” 

  Following the workshop, Frank expressed a desire to hold more trauma classes in the community. He stated, “I think we need to do it more frequently because human beings who are struggling, they don’t often hear the message the first time, second time, or third time because they got their own stuff going on. We have to make sure that we are doing this with a frequency that more people can come to the table and bring their own lived experiences because we are a learning community, we are learning about this together. I don’t know the Tulalip tribal trauma, I know the science of trauma and I know my own journey through it, and the more people I can learn from here, the better practice I get to help build the program. My office is at the youth center, and I meet with people individually as well as with families; psycho-educating, problem solving, coaching, I do a variety of things.”

As Frank mentioned, he can be reached at the Tulalip Youth Center at (360) 716-4909. Please reach out to him for further details regarding trauma and how to begin your healing process. 

The LOH’s DV Awareness Month continues with weekly events that are scheduled to be held in room 162 of the Tulalip Admin Building. All the events begin at 5:30 p.m. and are listed below.  

  • Thursday, 10/13: Self-Defense Class (ADULTS ONLY – limited to first 20 people only. E-mail CRae@TulalipTribes-nsn.gov to register)
  • Thursday, 10/20: Sisters Rising Film Screening (ages 14+)
  • Tuesday, 10/25: Beading as Healing Class (Wear Purple Day)

After witnessing the turnout for the first DV Awareness Month event, Jade expressed, “This shows that our community is ready. They’re ready to heal and ready to learn. They’re ready to start being vulnerable with each other and ready to start learning how we as a community can heal together. I’m really excited for this month, and I hope more people can join the different events that we have going on.”

If you or anybody you know is experiencing an abusive relationship, please do not hesitate to call the LOH at (360) 716-4100 for assistance. And if you are in a crisis or an emergency situation, the LOH provided a list of three additional hotline numbers that you can utilize during your time of need: 

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Strong Hearts Native Helpline: 1-844-762-8483
  • Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County 425-25-ABUSE (22873)

Senior fitness Wednesdays

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Tulalip elders Pauline Williams and Marvin Jones are regulars at the senior fitness class that takes place Wednesday mornings at 9:30 a.m. at the conveniently located Senior Center. While their commitment to a healthier heart, stronger bones, and improved flexibility should serve as positive role models to their peers, they are instead left wondering why more Tulalip seniors aren’t participating in the program.

“I’d love to see more of my beautiful Tulalip seniors attend this wonderful class,” said 78-year-old Pauline. “Movement and balance are very important for us at this stage in life. As we age, we lose the ability to do some of our favorite activities, but we can still evolve and adapt to keep our mind and body functional for other activities. For example, because of arthritis I can no longer play tennis, but I’ve adapted to the change and implemented other forms of cardio, like morning walks and dancing, into my life. These gentle workouts on Wednesday mornings are another example of adapting as we age. They are well coached and appropriately suited for us seniors.”

“Why do I choose to work out? Simple, to live longer,” chuckled fellow 78-year-old Marvin. “For me, these morning workouts are all about getting my joints moving and feeling better from the natural energy boosts. We have a lot of people talk about wanting to exercise, but then don’t show up when the classes are offered. It could be a lack of interest or maybe they are concerned about looking foolish. I’d tell all our seniors to come check out the class at least once to form your own opinions. We can all look foolish together.”

If you’re a senior reading this, then you’ve probably heard it time and again: physical activity and exercise are good for you, and you should commit them as part of your routine. There are countless studies that prove the important health benefits associated with exercise, and it becomes more important as we age. 

Regular physical activity and exercise for seniors helps improve mental and physical health, both of which will help you maintain your independence as you age. According to The Green Fields Continuing Care Community there are five huge benefits of exercise for seniors and aging adults:

  • Prevent Disease. Studies have shown that maintaining regular physical activity can help prevent many common diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Exercise improves overall immune function, which is important for seniors as their immune systems are often compromised. Even light exercise, such as walking, can be a powerful tool for preventable disease management.
  • Improved Mental Health. The mental health benefits of exercise are nearly endless. Exercise produces endorphins (the “feel good” hormone), which act as a stress reliever and leaves you feeling happy and satisfied. In addition, exercise has been linked to improving sleep, which is especially important for older adults who often suffer from insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns.  
  • Decreased Risks of Falls. Older adults are at a higher risk of falls, which can prove to be potentially disastrous for maintaining independence. Exercise improves strength and flexibility, which also help improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls. Seniors take much longer to recover from falls, so anything that helps avoid them in the first place is critical.
  •  Social Engagement. Whether you join a walking group, go to group fitness classes or visit a gardening club, exercise can be made into a fun social event. Maintaining strong social ties is important for aging adults to feel a sense of purpose and avoid feelings of loneliness or depression. Above all, the key is to find a form of exercise you love, and it will never feel like a chore again.
  • Improved Cognitive Function. Regular physical activity and fine-tuned motor skills benefit cognitive function. Countless studies suggest a lower risk of dementia for physically active individuals, regardless of when you begin a routine.

It is never too late for seniors to start engaging in a regular exercise routine. The key is to find something you enjoy doing and start at a level that is easy to maintain, which is what the senior fitness class strives to do. Led by two enthusiastic health coaches who work with Tulalip seniors routinely via the Health Clinic, Jared and David are eager to see more participation at their weekly offering.

“We try and make it these gentle workouts as adaptive as possible, so that anyone, even those with mobility issues, can participate, have some fun and get a possible health outcome from the class,” said physical therapist, Dr. David Morris. “Hopefully, we start to accumulate more people joining and being a part of this health movement. No signups or reservations needed. Just come on down. Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. at the Senior Center. Bring your brother and sisters, cousins, and significant others with you.”

For those seeking more information or have questions about the senior fitness Wednesdays, please call Dr. Morris at 360-716-4511.

Legacy of Healing to provide support during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“We want our community to realize that domestic violence (DV) has many layers,” said Legacy of Healing (LOH) Victim Advocate, Marisa Chavez. “Typically, people who are victims of domestic violence think that if they call law enforcement it’s because it’s something physical. But usually it starts emotional, then it goes to psychological – financial abuse, threats, and then becomes physical. So, this month, it’s about educating and providing information for people to realize that this is not okay that this is happening.”

A small building located on the corner of Waterworks and Marine Drive, next door to the Tulalip Bay Fire Station, is much more than meets the eye. Standing as a symbol of hope for many fleeing an abusive relationship, the building, which many people pass by on their everyday commute, is the home of the Tulalip Legacy of Healing, a program designed to support and uplift Tulalip tribal members, parents and spouses of Tulalip members, as well as other Natives who live on the reservation, through difficult and challenging times. 

Upon entering the building, and meeting with the team’s staff of advocates, many DV victims and survivors begin to see a way out and are able to safely plan to escape their unhealthy partnerships. 

A quick Google search will show that the Native American population are at an extremely higher risk for experiencing domestic violence than other races. According to the National Institute of Justice, 84% of Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime as well as 81% of Native men. That same study stated that ‘more than four in five American Indian and Alaskan Native women and men experienced DV in [2016] alone’. 

It is important to keep in mind that the statistics from this particular study have been referenced in many publications since it was released, and that this is the most up to date study. Tulalip LOH and Child Advocacy Center (CAC) Director, Jade Carela believes that although these numbers are shocking, they may be much higher. Citing conversations with other advocacy center directors, she gathered that there has been a recent influx of victims since the pandemic first hit. Another reasons these stats may be inaccurate can be credited to underreporting.

Said Jade, “One misconception that we want to make sure to clear up for our community is that a lot of people have been taught that domestic violence equates to physical violence. That’s not what domestic violence is. Domestic violence is many other things. To me it’s important for people to understand that, because I feel there are a lot of people in very unhealthy relationships that crossover into domestic violence and they might not realize that’s the type of relationship they’re in or that there is help when they’re in those type of relationships. A lot of domestic violence isn’t physical, and by the time it gets physical, there’s an end to it because they kill their spouse. Because they don’t recognize it as domestic violence, the victims don’t reach out for help.”

For this reason, it is important to understand what DV is exactly, that way if victims are able to identify that they are in a DV relationship, they can get out before it ever reaches an extreme scenario. Below is list of red flags curated by the LOH that serves as an indicator of an abusive partner. 

  • Wants to get serious right away.
  • Humiliates you – calls you names or puts you down to break your confidence.
  • Treats you better when other people are around
  • Screams at you to intimidate you.
  • Follows your or calls/texts repeatedly to check up on you.
  • Pressures you to go along with what they want.
  • Bullies or tries to humiliate you via text, social media, or e-mail.
  • Throws, hits, or breaks things to make you afraid.
  • Gets overly jealous when you spend time with friends or family. 
  • Tags you in posts, even though you have asked them not to.
  • Insists that you give them your passwords to your voicemail, social media or e-mail accounts.
  • Physically or sexually assaults you.
  • Denies their abusive behavior. 
  • Gaslights you.
  • All their exes are crazy except you.

The LOH extended their list to include red flags that increase your chance for being seriously hurt or even killed.

  • Uses or threatens to use a gun, knife or other weapon.
  • Threatens to kill your or themselves if the relationship ends.
  • Tries to choke or strangle you.
  • Forces you to have sex or physically assaults you.
  • Is violently or constantly jealous. 

Cassandra Rae, CAC Education Outreach Family Advocate, stated, “Often times part of the abuse is isolating you – cutting you off from family, friends, support systems. Having an advocate who is 100% there for you is such a huge part to finding the strength and the courage to leave an abusive situation. Often times there’s a lot of gaslighting. Part of the abuse can be cutting your self-esteem down – ‘people aren’t going to like you, people aren’t going to believe you, you’re making this up, you’re so emotional – that type of stuff. Sometimes people get so eroded, it’s so hard to have that voice to make that call. But that’s another really important part of the awareness work, to lift people up, to recognize how important and valuable our people are.”

Added Marisa, “Sometimes if an abuser is using kids against their partner they’ll say, ‘if you go to the cops, you’re going to lose the kids.’ That’s a real barrier to why people don’t leave because they’re trying to stay connected to their children. It’s so much more than hitting, it’s asserting power and control over someone, taking their choices away, taking their money away. If you don’t have access to money, or you have to get permission from your spouse, or you’re not allowed to see your family, those are some examples. Multiple texting in a time frame, calling to see where you are, putting trackers on your car, these are all tactics that people will do to control their partner. Those are things that a lot of people don’t recognize, they just think ‘oh he just wants to take care of me and know where I’m at’ – that’s not a healthy relationship.”

Nationwide, communities are taking part in an initiative to raise awareness about DV during the month of October. Over the past several years, both prior to and after the pandemic, the LOH team has been active during DV Awareness Month and held events to provide resources and information to those in the community in need of assistance. 

“One of the core focuses with DV Awareness Month is the importance of breaking the silence,” expressed Sydney Gilbert, CAC/LOH Coordinator and Forensic Interviewer. “If people are not talking about and it’s not coming to light, it lives in the shadow. The more we can talk about it, the more we can bring it to attention, the more we can normalize the conversation around it, I think it increases comfort for folks coming forward. It’s pervasive in the community. We know that there’s higher rates of intimate partner violence in communities that have experienced trauma. Another focus we have for this month is addressing that trauma, and not only bringing attention to intimate partner violence but bringing attention on how we can heal from that as a community.”

This year, the LOH is proud to announce that they will be hosting a number of events throughout October, with the goal in mind to open up discussion about what DV is within the community. Below is the list of events that the LOH will hold during the month. An event will be held every Thursday, beginning at 5:30 p.m., in room 162 of the Tulalip Administration Building. 

  • Thursday, 10/6:  Resolving Trauma Workshop
  • Thursday, 10/13: Self-Defense Class (ADULTS ONLY – limited to first 20 people only. E-mail CRae@TulalipTribes-nsn.gov to register)
  • Thursday, 10/20: Sisters Rising Film Screening (ages 14+)
  • Tuesday, 10/25: Beading as Healing Class

Cassandra described what the DV Awareness Month events entail, “We’re doing a resolving trauma workshop that’s all about the latest research on trauma, so you can understand how it impacts your life, as well as how understanding your trauma is the first step to healing that trauma. We’re doing a beading as healing class. Connecting with traditional cultural practices are huge resiliency factors, and it’s connecting with your community, having an opportunity where you are beading together, and you can have those conversations. We’re also doing a self-defense class, and a film screening of a film called Sisters Rising.” 

Noting that each situation is different, LOH understands that leaving an abusive partnership is extremely difficult and can sometimes involve the court systems. LOH wants to inform the community that if you are in a situation where you do have to go through tribal or state court, they will be there to support you emotionally throughout the entire process. Additionally, LOH is careful not to pass any judgements and allows their clients grace and understanding, because statistically it could take a victim multiple times to leave an abusive relationship. 

“Typically, it takes a survivor seven times to leave an abuser,” Marisa explained. “Talking to someone who can work with you, and help you be safe in your household so there’s not another incident, and help you plan to get out safely, that’s something that an advocate you can help with.”

Jade agreed, “Because it does take them so many times to leave, if someone comes to utilize services through us, we know that they might go back. They’re always welcome to the LOH because we know that’s how it works. We don’t want community members to feel bad, or like they are stupid or weak. Those are definitely things that we never think about people because we know that this is the cycle, this is what they go through. And when they leave, it’s also the most dangerous time. It’s a huge risk for them. So, if they can just reach out to start doing some safety planning and talking to one of our advocates privately, they can start preparing and working up to what they need to do.”

The LOH stressed the fact that DV can happen to anybody regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and social status. The team invites you to come out to show support and help raise awareness at the events throughout DV Awareness month. And if you or anybody you know is experiencing an abusive relationship, please do not hesitate to call the LOH at (360) 716-4100 or assistance. And if you are in a crisis or an emergency situation, the LOH provided a list of three additional hotline numbers that you can utilize during your time of need: 

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Strong Hearts Native Helpline: 1-844-762-8483
  • Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County 425-25-ABUSE (22873)

“This is still happening in our community,” Jade stated. “It’s something that we see happening every single day. If you are experiencing an abusive relationship, the first thing you need to do is call us. By calling us, it doesn’t mean the police need to get involved, it doesn’t even mean you have to work with us. You can just call and say you are interested in talking to an advocate, and you can have a private conversation with an advocate about what you are experiencing. From there, we can offer our services, and it’s important to have that connection so when do become ready to leave, you can come back and see us later on.”

Assemble your Go Bags following the 5 Cs of Survival

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“When building a bug out or a go bag, it’s important to get enough supplies and essentials to get you from point A to point B. Point A is the threat of danger and point B is the location that you choose for safety,” said Angel Cortez, Tulalip Emergency Management Director.

The Bolt Creek fire caused a lot of panic and distress for many families on the westside of Washington State. The air quality index at Tulalip reached an alarming 165 during the height of the fire, and people who lived in the nearby vicinity of the wildfire were urged to leave immediately. As many of our readers may know, Sky Valley Fire sent out an evacuation notice via a text message alert on the afternoon of September 10.

Meant for people in the Skykomish region, the alert was accidently sent out to everybody in Snohomish County. Residents of Tulalip, Everett, and Marysville took to social media to get the real scoop, asking their friends, families and local first responders if they needed to pack up and evacuate as the warning advised. And faced with a problem that us western Washingtonians hardly ever have to consider, a lot of people pondered what to grab in that emergency situation.

“It’s good to have a plan that meets the needs of you and the people you care about,” Angel said. “I tell people that preparing for something is basically how comfortable that you want to be in an uncomfortable situation. When people think about creating or building their bug out bag, they’re building them to provide safety, to provide comfort, and to provide the essentials for sustaining you to get to the next destination or a place of safety.”

Eric Cortez builds a Go Bag during a 2018 CERT training.

Go bags, also known as bug out bags or 72-hour safety kits, are personalized backpacks that contain everything you need in the case of an emergency where you need to evacuate your home at a moment’s notice. Prior to COVID, the Tulalip Tribes Emergency Management team regularly held annual CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) classes for both youth and adults. Among all the fun and important teachings that the CERT trainings offer, including how to triage and help others during a natural disaster, part of the classes are dedicated to teaching people how to build their own go bags. 

Said Angel, “We think of the big disasters as earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, and fires. But here at Tulalip, for the people who live on the cliffs or on the beaches, what about erosion? What happens if the cliff gives way? You might need to leave for that immediately. What if it’s in the middle of the night and you need to just get up, get your clothes on, your shoes on and leave. That’s where the bug out bag comes into play. It’s not being paranoid, it’s good to think of those things beforehand, rather than in the moment during an emergency situation.”

When creating your own bug out bag, Angel recommends personalizing it to your individual needs and stocking it with items you will actually use while in distress, such as tasty snacks that you enjoy as opposed to dry foods that may go to waste. He also advises that each member of your family creates their very own go bag, and to pack comfort items for the kids like stuffed animals, their favorite toys, and their choice of entertainment including tablets and books. 

He said, “I have five kids. So, if something were to happen, each of my kids can grab their own bag, and my wife and I can grab our bags. In my bag, I might have different things than my wife does. But put together, we have everything we need. And then with the kids, it’s about comfort. Maybe it’s their favorite stuffed animal, maybe it’s a small bag of candy, just something to keep them occupied because they’ll be scared and worried about all the crazy stuff that’s happening around them. It kind of de-escalates the situation in their mind and allows them to have some kind of comfort. So, if something happens in the middle of the night, it’s easier for everybody to grab their bags, get in the car, and go.”

Angel offered a few tips that will guide you when assembling your own go bag. First and foremost, he urges everybody to update their bags regularly throughout the seasons, noting that an abundance of warm winter gear will occupy space and weigh you down during the spring and summer seasons. Next, he states that it would be extremely beneficial to learn all the proper techniques of the equipment that you pack. He believes this is especially true if you have young children because it presents the opportunity to learn as a family, and the kids are better prepared if disaster does strike. 

If you are wondering where to begin, Angel said a good place to start is the hunting and camping section of your favorite retail store such as Walmart or Target. In those isles, you are sure to find a number of multi-use items that can be stored in your go bag like paracord, multi-tools, tarps, and flashlights. And as far as the essentials that every bug out bag should have, he encourages everybody to follow the five Cs of survival – cutting tools, combustion devices, cover and shelter, containers, and cordage. 

“Dave Canterbury came up this concept and he’s kind of an outdoors guy,” he explained. “He’s famous in the prepper community. These five things are the basics to help you in any situation. Your cutting tool is your knife, or it could be a multi tool. Combustion is a way to create fire, you never know if you need to start fire. Combustion is big because maybe you need to clean your water, and heat it up, and that’s where your container comes in. Usually, it’s a metal container with a handle or something that you can cook out of, you can boil water, of you can drink out of it. You want all your equipment to be multi-use and your container has to do that as well.” 

He continued, “And then you have your cover, maybe it’s a tarp to get you out of the rain, or maybe it’s a lightweight sleeping bag or blanket. It’s whatever to keep you covered from the elements. In the summer, maybe it’s just to provide shade to keep you from getting sunburned. The other one is cordage, having some kind of paracord, preferably 550 paracord. And 550 means how much weight that cord can handle. Parachute cord and is very thin, very strong, very durable, and it’s lightweight, so you can carry a lot of length in your cord where it doesn’t take up a lot of room in your bag. There’s a lot of uses for cordage, whether you’re tying down your tarp for shelter, or maybe you forgot to bring a belt and your pants are falling down, you know, it’s good for whatever your rope or cordage can do for you.”

Angel went on to explain that Canterbury also curated an extended list of essentials, going from the five Cs to ten Cs of survival. That list includes candling, or flashlights and headlamps, cotton for washing, keeping cool and filtering large sediment out of your water, cargo tape, a.k.a. duct tape or gorilla tape, a compass, and a canvas needle for repairing torn items and assisting with paracord.   

In addition to the ten Cs of survival, Angel also advises people to pack a first aid kit, and any medication you may need such as an epi-pen, insulin, or an albuterol inhaler, as well as batteries and chargers. Another tip is shopping the sales of grocery stores during your normal shopping outings and purchasing extra food here and there to store away in case of an emergency. He also believes that keeping your gas tank at least half-full will be extremely helpful in the event you need to get in your car and get as far away from the disaster as possible. If you have pets, it’s imperative that they each have their own bug out bags as well, and be sure to pack it with food, water, snacks, blankets, medication, and toys specifically for them. 

And finally, he encourages everyone to sit down and map out a plan with your loved ones in case a disaster were to occur. Within that plan you should also assign a third party contact in case cell service is unavailable or disrupted, establish a safe place to meet up in case your party is split up. You should also have additional bags at the ready, such as an Inch Bag for long-term emergencies or a Get Home Bag that is stored in your car and is filled with all the essentials to get you back home in the event of a catastrophic disaster.

  “Our ancestors were preppers,” expressed Angel. “They were always prepping for winter. They went out and caught fish, gathered food, and hunted during summer harvest and put it away for the winter. They created medicines and winter clothing. Our ancestors knew this was important. They knew what it was going to take to take care of their people. They were always thinking ahead about the future, and how to provide for the babies and for their families. We have to think that way too. My goal for the community is I want people to start thinking about it, talking about it, researching it, and doing it now. Because if you wait until game day to do it, you’re already way too late.”

Hope Together,  Heal Together: Tulalip Observes National Overdose Awareness Day

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“We lost so many of our people to overdose,” vocalized Tashena Hill, Tulalip Overdose Detection Mapping and Application Program (ODMAP) Outreach Specialist. “It’s important to commemorate them, and respect and honor their life that they lost to drug overdose and let their families and our community know that we love them.”

In 2021, there were an estimated 107,622 deaths nationwide due to drug overdose, according to provisional data gathered by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. That is a 15% increase from 2020’s 93,655 recorded overdose deaths, which at the time was very alarming considering that itself was a 30% jump from the 71,000 reported overdose deaths in 2019. The numbers keep escalating as the years pass, breaking the hearts of family members throughout the country who hoped their loved ones would one day reach the road to recovery. 

A look at the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office Drug Overdose Dashboard shows that this year alone, there has been 188 drug overdose deaths in the county. 82 of those deaths involved opioids, 68 deaths involved fentanyl, and 67 deaths involved methamphetamine. 

Multiple studies from the likes of the CDC and the Washington Post report that Indian Country has been hit by the opioid epidemic the hardest, claiming that from 2006-2014 Natives were 50% more likely to die from an opioid overdose than any other race in the country. Those reputable sources also released a disclaimer stating those statistics, though high, are still more than likely under reported due to a number of factors. Most misreporting stems from hospitals and coroners indicating the incorrect race on the death certificates of overdose victims. 

And thanks to in-depth reporting from Tulalip News’ own Micheal Rios, he uncovered that there have been approximately 20 OD deaths on the Tulalip reservation since 2020.

“Natives have a higher rate of substance use disorder (SUD),” said Kali Joseph, the Tulalip ODMAP Project Coordinator. “The overdose rate amongst Native people have been on the rise since the year 2000. Even in Snohomish County, the rate of fentanyl overdoses is becoming epidemic levels and continuing to rise. It’s been really taking a toll on the communities. So many people have lost loved ones to overdose that it’s hard to find support, but when we hold community events like this, it’s a place to come together and it allows us to heal together.”

An important and healing gathering took place on the last day of August at the Tulalip Dining Hall. Hosted by Tulalip ODMAP and Tulalip Family Services, the event brought together the local recovery community and the Tulalip citizenship for National Overdose Awareness Day. 

“Overdose Awareness Day is important to the community because it helps break the stigma,” stated Tulalip Family Services Chemical Dependency Professional, Donna Gray. “It helps the people who are struggling, it provides support and understanding to their family members. And hopefully, it puts enough compassion and understanding out there for someone who’s really struggling and will encourage them to reach out for help.”

Held every year on August 31, National Overdose Awareness Day presents an opportunity for communities to raise awareness about the opioid and fentanyl epidemic while also taking time to honor the loved ones who we lost to overdose. 

Tribal member and recovering addict, Alisha Sua expressed, “I think there needs to be more events like this to help get information out there about this issue because there’s so many people dying from overdosing, so I think the more knowledge we have about it, the better off we’ll be.”

There were a number of fun activities at the event including a dunk tank, an arts and crafts station, as well as a raffle giveaway. Upon signing in, the participants received a Narcan kit to take home to utilize in case of an overdose emergency situation, which could ultimately help save a life. 

Said Kali, “Narcan is a medicine that is an opioid antagonist, so it reverses opioid overdoses. It can save lives and has saved many lives. We think that carrying a Narcan kit, even if you don’t struggle with SUD, is being a good relative because you can always be a bystander if an overdose incident happens. It can really save someone’s life, so we encourage people to get a Narcan kit. That’s why ODMAP has an incentive program for the Narcan, to get it out there and hopefully get it in every home in the community.”

Alisha added, “I like the awareness and the Narcan distributions happening out at the tribe, so more people are aware of possible ways to help people in a bad situation. We’re fortunate enough to be in a location that provides Narcan because I know that other states do not provide it. I like being able to get to it because you never know when you’re going to need it and it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.” 

Those in attendance also got the chance to place a painted handprint on a large banner in memory of those whose lives were taken far too soon by addiction. Written next to the handprints were the names of each those individuals.

“We have community members who showed up today who have lost a loved one to overdose and they’ll put a handprint on our banner, it helps us acknowledge them,” Kali expressed. “I feel like it makes the folks who lost a loved one to overdose not feel alone and not feel like they’re the only ones who have experienced that loss. It goes back to the holistic health and how everything comes full circle, and that we as a community are taking action to heal from generational trauma. This is us being responsible for our loved ones who are struggling with SUD. If we work together collectively, we’ll be a strong united front. That’s why we say hope together, heal together.”

For more information, help, and additional resources please do not hesitate to reach out to Tulalip ODMAP at (360) 716-4773 or Tulalip Family Services at (360) 716-4400. And if you’re a Tulalip community member and would like to receive a free Narcan kit, please call or text (360) 722-2255 or visit www.tulaliptribalcourt-nsn.gov/ProgramsAndServices/ODMAP 

It’s huckleberry harvest time!

swədaʔx̌ali is a sustained effort between a Tulalip Tribes and U.S. Forest 
Service partnership.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

For thousands of years, huckleberry has served as an important food, medicine, and trade good to the Coast Salish peoples. Mountain huckleberry is most abundant in the middle to upper mountain elevations, and favors open conditions following disturbances like fire or logging. Prior to European colonization, Native peoples managed ideal harvesting locations by using fire and other traditional means to maintain huckleberry growth for sustainable picking.

In 2011, the Tulalip Tribes began working cooperatively with the U.S. Forest Service to sustain huckleberries at a 1,280-acre parcel of land, 4,700 feet above elevation in the upper Skykomish River watershed. This particular location is one of several co-stewardship areas throughout the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest where Tulalip collaborates with the Forest Service to preserve and maintain important cultural resources. 

“The huckleberry co-stewardship work is one of the ways we are partnering with the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to help sustain huckleberries on the forest, and ensure that tribal members will continue to have the opportunity to gather important resources and practice traditions central to their culture,” said Tulalip Environmental Policy Analyst, Libby Nelson, back in 2016. “Treaty rights encompass more than an opportunity to pick berries, hunt game or harvest fish. Having a meaningful role on the ground, in the stewardship of these resources, helps reconnect tribal peoples to these lands and the teachings of their ancestors.”

Named swədaʔx̌ali, Lushootseed for ‘Place of Mountain Huckleberries’, this end of summer destination gives Tulalip tribal members an opportunity to walk in the steps of their ancestors and harvest the highly prized mountain huckleberry. The official announcement that the berry bounty at swədaʔx̌aliι was ripe and ready for picking came from our forestry program manager, Nick Johnson, on August 24. 

“The huckleberries are ripe. The gate to swədaʔx̌ali now has a combination lock on it to enable tribal access. To get the combination of the lock please call the Admin Building front desk at 360-716-4160,” Nick’s announcement read. “After your party has gone through the gate please lock it behind you, so that any non-tribal groups don’t enter and potentially end up getting stuck behind a locked gate. The road has some deep-water bars where you’ll probably want a high-clearance vehicle to get through. Also the new gate is heavy and can take some effort to close and lock in place.”

An excellent source of antioxidants, both vitamin A and B, huckleberries are great for promoting a healthy metabolism.

Northwest mountain huckleberries generally ripen in the late summer and can be picked into the early fall. Huckleberry, well-known for boosting the immune system and being rich in antioxidants, has always had a strong relationship to the area’s Indigenous cultures. Coast Salish tribes consider the huckleberry to be an important dietary staple because of its medicinal properties and sweet, delicious taste. 

“Huckleberry is a food and medicine to our people,” explained Tulalip elder Inez Bill. “Our ancestors visited certain areas for gathering these berries. They knew where the berries were growing, what companion plants were growing there too, and how to use them. 

“Through the teachings of how we value, take care of and utilize our environment, we pass down our history and traditions, and what is important to the cultural lifeways of our people,” she continued. “This connection to the land enables us to know who we are as a people. It is a remembrance. Today, it is not only important that we continue the struggle to uphold our treaty rights, but we need to be involved in taking care of those resources our culture depends on so they will be available to future generations.” 

swədaʔx̌ali is a prime example of how Tulalip is diligently working to reclaim traditional areas. Stemming directly from the Point Elliot Treaty, which secured claims to gather roots and berries in all open and unclaimed land, the ‘Place of the Mountain Huckleberries” is clear expression of Tulalip’s sovereignty.

Embracing that sovereignty is every tribal member who journeys to this ancestral harvesting area and practices their cultural traditions that continue to be passed on from one generation to the next. The mountain huckleberry is intimately tied with traditional Tulalip lifeways and culture. 

Historically providing an end of summer harvest opportunity, the journey to swədaʔx̌ali strengthens a deep connection to the land.  Nearly 5,000 feet up, in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, berry pickers are completely immersed in the grand splendor that is the Pacific Northwest. Epic views of luscious, green-filled forestry, towering mountains, and clear waterways can be mesmerizing.

“It was a beautiful, uplifting experience. Once we hit the forest, where there were no buildings, no cars, no people, just trees…my spirit soared,” shared annual huckleberry harvester Maria Rios. “I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to speak my language, but that is only a piece of my culture. Berry picking feels natural, like I’ve always done it. The smells are intoxicating. The sounds are beautiful, from the buzzing bugs and chirping birds to the gentle breeze rustling the huckleberry leaves. These are the meaningful experiences that we all need to share in.”

“Oh my god. What a great day in the mountains!” added first time swədaʔx̌ali visitor Lena Hammons, who ventured up the mountain cautiously with her companion Jamie Sheldon. “This was my first time out gathering since I was a little girl. Definitely my first time participating in the tribal harvest. It was awesome listening to the laughter, trying to fill my bucket with huckleberries and wild blueberries. Was fortunate to get some awesome devil’s club, too, which makes my truck smell amazing. We got to wash our faces in the river on the way down. The entire experience was so healing and filled my spirit with love. All our people need to experience the beauty of swədaʔx̌ali.”

 Mountain huckleberry season is short, lasting only a few weeks between August and September. The sought after super food and medicine ranges in color from red to deep blue to maroon. They are similar to a blueberry in appearance and much sweeter than a cranberry, with many people rating huckleberries as the tastiest of the berry bunch. The gate to swədaʔx̌ali will only remain accessible to Tulalip membership for a few more weeks, so don’t miss the opportunity to harvest and take in breathtaking views, while expressing your inherent tribal sovereignty.

Huckleberry Health Benefits:

  • Huckleberries are full of antioxidants, compounds that are essential for improving the health of numerous systems within the body, while also preventing the development of serious health issues.
  • An excellent source of vitamin A and B, huckleberries are great for promoting a healthy metabolism which in turn helps reduce the risk of stroke. They are also known to help stave off macular degeneration as well as viruses and bacteria.
  • Huckleberries are associated with lowering cholesterol; protecting against heart diseases, muscular degeneration, glaucoma, varicose veins, and ulcers.
  • Huckleberries are an excellent source of iron which helps build new red blood cells and helps fatigue associated with iron deficiency.
  • High in vitamin C, huckleberries protect the body against immune deficiencies, cardiovascular diseases, prenatal health problems, and eye diseases.

Native American Fitness Council empowers local fitness leaders

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Native American Fitness Council (NAFC) was established in 2004 with the mission of empowering Native Americans through exercise education. The NAFC cofounders recognized a need for knowledgeable, passionate, and experienced Native American fitness instructors, but their vision didn’t stop there. These dedicated professionals developed programs that teach people to train other Natives in proper exercise and healthy lifestyles.

Today, NAFC has educated and inspired thousands of individuals to become positive role models in their communities. Tulalip was fortunate to receive their one-of-a-kind, culturally relevant approach to Native health during a two-day fitness camp hosted at our local youth center on August 4th and 5th

“The Fitness Council chose Tulalip as one of only four northwest tribes to help implement their vision of learning traditional games and exercises in an effort to ignite a spark for new fitness leaders within the local community,” said Erik Kakuska (Zuni Pueblo), western tribal diabetes project specialist. “These traditional games ranged from Eskimo Olympics, like the seal pull and seal carry, to the plains version of field hockey, better known as shinny.

“Our goal is to incorporate a great deal of functionality into all our workouts, so the youth learn proper form and alignment when they’re running, jumping, and really playing any popular sport,” he added. “The last two days have been filled with all kinds of activities that encourage the kids to find the fun in the game. Visiting tribal communities across the nation, we recognize that a lot of our culture was lost. It’s important to reteach that culture to the best of our abilities, and a part of that is teaching the value of keeping yourself healthy. Not only with your physical, but also with your mental.”

In true collaborative fashion, the NAFC worked side by side with Tulalip’s own diabetes care and prevention teams and representatives from youth services to make the multi-day fitness camp run as smoothly as possible. The shear quality of garden-fresh breakfasts and nutrition filled lunches cooked up by chef Brit Reed was almost as impressive as the 30 or so adolescents who went back for plate after plate. Filling up on much needed fuel for their mind, body and spirits as they engaged in a variety of A/C chilled, indoor games and even more sun soaked outdoor exercises in 80+ degree temperature. 

It’s no secret that as an ethnic group, Native Americans are hit the hardest, per capita, by several life shortening risk factors, such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Then there’s the recent engagement of our young people with that homicidal maniac Fentanyl. A dark topic that needs a brighter spotlight shed on it for sure, but we’ll save that for another time.

Breaking news! All these debilitating diseases can come to a screeching halt by simply making healthier decision on a routine basis. Wild, right? Well, the even better news is that there are those among Gen Z who recognize this truth and desire to break the stereotypes that depict their people as unhealthy. Two such lean, mean fighting against the diabetes machine tribal members were willing to share their fitness camp experience. 

“What I’ve enjoyed is that all the activities we’ve done aren’t really hard to do, like anyone can participate and still go at their own pace,” said 16-year-old Ryelon Zackuse. “I’ve had some coaches who’ve been really rude or loud trying to make a point and that makes some people want to give up. But the coaches and instructors here were sensitive to our people’s abilities and took it slow to make sure everyone understood the motions and rules of the games. Eating good foods and being active is important to me because I have goals I want to achieve through sports and I can’t achieve those things if I’m eating junk food all the time. Its pretty simple really, if you stop treating your body well, then eventually your body will stop treating you well.”

“My favorite parts of the camp were learning to play traditional games from other tribes across the country, like when we went onto the ball field and played shinny. Not only did we learn to play a new game, but they showed us some simple tips to make sure we were engaging our cores and keeping our hips in alignment while running,” added 17-year-old Samara Davis. “I’ve really enjoyed the past couple days, being with so many of my peers and just having fun outside. It’s important for all our people, the youngest to the elders, to know the importance of daily movement.

“Personally, I love the way fresh fruits and vegetables taste, so it was cool being in an environment where we were provided with good, nutritional foods,” she continued while snacking on an apricot. “Healthy habits, whether its eating or exercise, is all about consistency. Once you’ve learned the habits, just keep doing them. That’s how we become elders.”

The showcase of Tulalip physical talent ranged from flexing agility and dexterity with a balloon tied around their ankles while attempting stomp the balloon of another player, to demonstrating nimbleness and light on their feet juke moves in a hybrid version of dodge ball, except they used water-soaked sponges on the hot summer day. Two days filled with exercise, education, an abundance of health and nutrition advice, traditional games from across Indian Country, and many memories made for the what the Native American Fitness Council are dubbing community fitness leaders.

“Our team believes if the kids see us as adults having a good time and doing our best to demonstrate good fun sportsmanship in winning and losing, while embracing simple traditions like coming together to share in wonderful meals where the kids can share their experiences, then we all benefit and win,” explained Veronica ‘Roni’ Leahy, diabetes care and prevention manager

“Our health clinic wins in the sense our program engages with the youth of Tulalip by delivering the best we can offer, and gives us chances to build long-lasting, positive relationships. The youth of Tulalip wins by having opportunities to be trained by some of the best trainers in Indian Country, not to mention experience traditional foods and the making of traditional medicines, like sore muscle salves. It really was so amazing to witness all the joy and laughter from simple fun and games that brought us all together. 

“We look forward to a time when we can offer this again, but on a larger scale,” added Roni. “So many people of all ages could really learn and enjoy these expert trainers and have so much fun in the process. Definitely one of the best events our program has offered.”